ISKANDER

Before beginning, I look up: The vertical rock is so smooth, in some places so brilliant, that seems polished. Then I look below. From two kilometers high the rivers turn into thin and curved white capillaries and his noise is not already listened from so long distance. If you are going to fall down from this height you will have not only time to see what happens, but also edges rapid what brings the ground over to you and you will feel the wind blowing in your clothes. Also you will have time to give a very long scream. In the end, when impactes with the rock, you will only do a noise similar to that of a mature watermelon when it is cracked.
My look concentrates on a fissure. It is two centimeters ... but it seems that it had less than two millimeters.
- Shura, I go away.
- You have rope.
Now, to beginning. I afford to look down for last time, displace backwards the team, press the belt and then I concentrate my attention and forget everything around me. Nothing of looks below. If you will not be of brads too much time and will have cold, and then you can lose the control and fall down. Now all my attention is for the important only thing: a step of the left foot, a step of the right foot.

I start moving to the left side, taking hold while there is possible the rope that is fixed to the wall by a nail. I have to stretch and tighten with all my force the muscles of the legs, I have trained this every day for years. I know that my heels do not touch the wall, my tops support double load and I feel as my feet sweat in the shoes. Not to slide! I come to the crack. And now: how to rise and to recover the free rope? I throw and recover the rope: now two centimeters, now twenty millimeters... The tongue Is largísima! If the ground was not to two kilometers, but to twenty centimeters like in my trainings in the ruins of an ancient mill in Loshitsa, it would put to raise the distance of this rope easily in five minutes. I try to persuade myself that I am in Loshitsa, that is easy to say. If it was falling down of twenty centimeters I would get angry and would try it again, but here there is no the second occasion.
I have done a movement of the left foot, drag now the right foot ... and the rope slackened. I have my arms opened completely in the rock, pressing with the hands the rough surface. Almost I caress her ready to kiss her.
Suddenly the strong wind forces me to move to and fro; the rope that was behind to my back strikes me the face.
My heart jumps and gets stuck in some part of my gullet, where the wind remains meanwhile he calms down. If the wind blows more I go away up to the hell. And that more above for another slope, the wind will be stronger. I turn the head to the right hand caressing with my cheek the wall and look below. Shura observes me with a lot of attention taking the rope in his hands. In this moment I look like a Christ in the cross. Why are you stopped? It continues, I have cold, - said my partner, castañeando the teeth. He takes a jacket of pen and woolen oven gloves of camel. Above gloves of canvas, and in the feet you dump vibram double.
The day ends already almost, it is freezing and I must raise the last length of rope. For eight hours we are in this wall and the weariness is evident. I have been approximately three minutes without moving, straining for relaxing in this position of shit. It is completely impossible; nevertheless I recover the mastery of me himself. Shura seems completely frozen in the wall, has not opened the mouth again; and I mentally am grateful for it.
The cold feels and trying to forget it, slowly I move. Further... following the crack; in the end, I warn a small crack in which I can insure oneself.
It is possible to happen for this way; but only this way, slowly, with a lot of care. The hurry is fatal since the wind is increasing, and with his invisible hand it strikes me strongly, penetrating inside the clothes. A stronger gust balances me. I stop again, almost without breathing and think that it might be here up to the infinite...
In a moment when the wind lowers a little his force, I spend the right leg behind a rocky protrusion and savior submits with a finger of the left hand to the crack. Now I can take not even a second! Stretching with the right hand towards the wall, shot of my body with only one finger. Helped with the feet, I throw the arm right jumping the possible maximum thing even above to reach protrusion. One more effort and I have risen on the ledge dragging to weight my body with the arms.
Suddenly a strong stream of the air demolishes me depriving me of the balance. It is the end - I think fatally. But I manage to recover a few centimeters more with the arms and to hold of a big hole. A few seconds later I expire with satisfaction feeling it it dries that my gullet is.
Now I must find the best point to hold a nail. Here there is a small and firm crack.
Feeling with the left hand I look for the suitable nail, extract it of the belt and with the right hand I take the hammer of the rear pocket. Placed the nail in the crack, slowly brought the hammer over and softly, not to lose balance, struck strongly the python. It enters the easy crack and rapidly. I beat more loudly but I do not listen to the wished sound. The nail answers to my blows with a deaf sound. The crack is closed, blocks up, and the nail touching the wall does not enter not the half. What to do if there is no any other crack?
That whatever happens! As soon as the rope was assured to the nail, done a glance and on my neck I discern a collapse where a few small detainees are warned. After breathing deeply, I start moving up, and without forgetting not in a second that my last nail is only symbolic, embraced to the balcony I try to raise my body...
Finally! The feet momentarily sueltan of the rock and they hang in the air. Putting all my forces and moving desarrapadamente the legs, I keep on raising my body looking with the eyes where I can hold with safety. My convulsed respiration looks like a heavy hiss. My arms seem weak and torn and my muscles buzz as cables of high tension. I never knew so clearly that I am mortal.
The heart beats noisily and I listen to it strongly in my ears. To help a little to the arms, I put the chin in the singing and help with the head. I am ready to hold even with the teeth, at all costs, if it is this it helps to excel oneself. Sliding with my feet the boots on the surface of the flat wall, I have managed to test a small protrusion and supporting on him to reach with the right hand a very big and comfortable prey.
From now on the wall is less vertical. The way seems much easier. Opposite me there is a comfortable fissure for which it is possible to rise using 'friends' and 'fisureros', to come to a big platform where it fits completely the tent. Now, when the summit of Iskander already this fence, I feel again an exaggerated desire to finish this route as soon as possible. But the hurry in my current state means the fallen certification and I bind not to hurry myself.
Seized on the wall I rest a little bit, and suddenly I understand that I am going to win. My hands have frozen, the perspiration has closed me the eyes, the nausea has risen up to the gullet and the thirst torments me, but I have understood that in the end I will win. Above, since a goal line sees the wished platform, and it seems to me that I have spent all my life climbing this throw.
The desire to come as soon as possible disappears, and I even me afford to be late.

- Minsk, 1987